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Thursday, 12 June 1902


Mr SPEAKER - I was listening attentively to the honorable member with a view to ascertain whether he intended to ask my ruling, upon any new point. It certainly is not in order for the honorable member to discuss at this stage the ruling which I gave yesterday ; nor could I permit him to discuss the matter with the object of asking me whether I still held the that view I expressed yesterday. I was asked by the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, whether the amendment was relevant to the Bill, and I ruled that it was, for reasons which I then gave. The honorable member would not be in order in now discussing my ruling.


Mr V L SOLOMON (SOUTH AUSTRALIA, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - With all deference to you, Mr. Speaker, there was no point of order raised yesterday. The honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, during his speech casually asked you, without any notice, whether the amendment was relevant.


Mr SPEAKER - In order to prevent any misapprehension I may say at once that the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, intimated to me before he commenced his speech that he intended to raise a point of order, and, therefore, my ruling was given distinctly upon the point of order raised by the honorable and learned member.


Mr V L SOLOMON (SOUTH AUSTRALIA, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - May I ask if any honorable member is debarred from disagreeing with your ruling ?


Mr SPEAKER - The time at which dissent from a ruling may be expressed is immediately after it is given. No objection can be taken on the next day.


Mr V L SOLOMON (SOUTH AUSTRALIA, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - There was no point of order raised yesterday.


Mr SPEAKER - I have just said that there was.


Mr V L SOLOMON (SOUTH AUSTRALIA, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - My recollection of the speech of the honorable and learned member for South Australia is that there was no point of order raised. If I had understood the honorable and learned member to be raising a point of order, I should have challenged your ruling. As, however, there was merely a conversational appeal made by the honorable and learned member in the course of his speech I did not care to interrupt him.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - What is the distinction between a conversational appeal and a point of order 1


Mr V L SOLOMON (SOUTH AUSTRALIA, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - There is a very wide distinction. On a point of order the ruling of Mr. Speaker can be questioned ; but in this case no opportunity was afforded of challenging the decision.


Mr SPEAKER - I cannot permit the honorable member to continue this discussion. The ruling given by me yesterday was delivered after the speech of the honorable and learned member for South Australia had been concluded, and ample opportunities were presented for honorable members to challenge my decision there and then, without interfering with any one. I would ask the honorable member, therefore, to proceed with his speech.


Mr V L SOLOMON (SOUTH AUSTRALIA, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Of course, Mr. Speaker, I shall bow to your ruling, as I always do. The proposed amendment suggests something entirely foreign to the object of the Bill, something which in my opinion, and in the opinion of several honorable and learned members, is totally beyond the limits of our constitutional ' rights.


Mr Batchelor - Cannot Ave make an inquiry ?


Mr V L SOLOMON (SOUTH AUSTRALIA, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - There is nothing to prevent us from holding an inquiry whether there is a man in the moon or whether the moon is made of green cheese, but surely the House will not sanction an inquiry which will involve an expenditure of hundreds or thousands of pounds in regard to a question with which we have no constitutional right to deal. I have studied the Constitution very carefully, and I find nothing in it that would for one moment justify us in establishing Commonwealth iron works. Section 51 of the Constitution gives a great many powers to Parliament. Sub-section 3 provides that the Parliament shall have power to make laws with respect to -

Bounties on the production or export of. goods, but so that such bounties shall be uniform throughout the Commonwealth.

That provision is capable of being read in more than one way. It may mean that if bounties are offered by the Commonwealth, they shall be uniform throughout the Commonwealth. Our legal friends may contend that it means that if any one State is given the right to grant bounties, then every State shall have the right to grant bounties for the production of iron or anything else, or that it may mean that the Commonwealth shall have the right to grant bounties, giving each State the right to compete for such bounties. Both interpretations are perfectly within reason; but from other provisions in the

Constitution, it appears that that sub-section was designed to prevent the granting of bounties by any one State, except with the consent of both Houses of the Commonwealth Parliament. Section 90 provides that - 0" the imposition of uniform duties of customs the laws of the several States imposing duties of customs or of excise, or offering bounties on the production or export of goods, shall cease to have effect.

But section 91 varies that provision by enacting that any State may grant a bounty with the consent of both Houses of the Parliament of the Commonwealth expressed by resolution. On a general reading of the Constitution, I think the intention is, not that the Commonwealth itself should grant bounties, but that the States should be permitted to give bounties for the production or export of goods, but so that no one State should be able to obtain that privilege without a similar advantage being conferred upon every State of the union. .


Sir George Turner - That is rather inconsistent with the first part of section 90.


Mr V L SOLOMON (SOUTH AUSTRALIA, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - It is true that it is provided that on the imposition of uniform duties of customs the power of Parliament to impose duties of customs and of excise, and to grant bounties on the production or export of goods, shall become exclusive. But section 91 shows that, whilst it is intended to take away from the States the powers they have hitherto possessed to grant bounties as they chose, they still may be empowered by resolution of both Houses of the Commonwealth Parliament to grant bounties for the encouragement of industries. The idea was that such rights should not be granted to any State so as to give a preference or advantage to that particular State over any other. That appears to express the true meaning of sub-section (3) of section 51 relating to the payment of bounties. Have any of the States applied to us for permission to grant these bounties ? Judging by what I have heard from honorable members upon this side of the Chamber, and also from many honorable members opposite, New South Wales is the most favoured State of the Union so far as the possibility of developing the iron industry is concerned. Possessed of magnificent coal measures and splendid deposits of iron ore, she should long ago have been in a position to establish this enterprise. Only this afternoon we were told by the honorable and learned member for Illawarra that the difficulty in the past has been, not that New South Wales lacked abundant deposits of iron ore, or that her coal was unsuitable, but that the market open to her manufacturers was restricted to her own borders. Now, however, that the market of the Commonwealth is available, that State should be able to establish the iron industry without any artificial aid. Thestatement has also been repeatedly dinned into our ears that New South Wales is one of the wealthiest of the States, that she does not require an enormous revenue from customs duties, and that even under- the Tariff which the Government have introduced she will receive hundreds of thousands of pounds which she positively will not know what to do with. In the face of" such assertions, can we imagine that New South Wales is waiting for a vote of £200,000 or £300,000 to enable her to develop her native deposits of iron ore ? It seems to me that that argument abolishes the contention that the senior State requires this bonus to encourage the development of the industry. I am sure everyone will recognise that the honorable and learned member for Illawarra, who represents a district in which iron and coal deposits occur, is a competent authority, and he tells us that the failure of New South Wales to establish this industry ha* been due to the restricted market available. I feel sure that, with the extended market offered by the Commonwealth, New South Wales, without any assistance in. the shape of bonuses, will be able to place the iron industry upon a firm and businesslike footing. We have it upon very good authority that in Tasmania large deposits of suitable ore are to be found near to the coast. So long as the native ores of that State are suitable for smelting, and therates of freight to convey them to the placewhere coal exists are reasonable, it matters little to Tasmania whether the industry isdeveloped by private enterprize, or by means of the payment of bonuses. Personally I do not think that this Bill will accomplish the object desired. Even if it were passed to-morrow I do not think it would exercise the slightest influence upon those people in the older countries who have a plethora of capital waiting for investment in anything which promises to be a paying concern. There will be no difficulty in obtaining £300,000 or £3,000,000 from the English money market if it can be shown that both suitable coal and iron ore exist in any of the States, and that Australia is to some extent protected - as it has been by this House - under Division VI. a of the Tariff. I do not wish to occupy unreasonable time in discussing this matter. I have already pointed out that under the Constitution the amendment of the honorable member for Bland would be useless. "Where is the utility of obtaining reports upon the advisableness of the Commonwealth establishing an iron industry when, as the Minister for Trade and Customs will admit, there is nothing in the Constitution to permit of such a course of action being taken? I trust that the second reading of this Bill will be defeated if the Minister for Trade and Customs does not agree to withdraw it. I advise him in the most friendly spirit to adopt the course suggested, or to permit of an adjournment of the debate until the Tariff has been dealt with. There is nothing undignified in such a procedure. The argument that matters are pending which materially affect the fate of this measure has a good deal to recommend it. Therefore, I suggest that the right honorable gentleman should withdraw the Bill till next session, or postpone its consideration till we have dealt with the Electoral Bill, which is an important measure, the consideration of which will occupy some time. We do not desire to be debating these subjects for more than eighteen months. The adoption of the course which I have indicated will conduce to the interests of the Commonwealth and to the comfort of honorable members generally.







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